Kidney Disease Series – 6-Understanding Your Test Results: Monitoring Your Kidney Function

Today I wanted to disperse some of the mystery to do with lab results. Time and time again I hear of people coming back from their doctor feeling more confused then when you went in. It’s understandable that interpreting test results can be a very stressful experience, especially if you are unwell – plus it’s like trying to remember a new language. But really, this should be the exception rather than the norm.

Your test results contain lots of names and figures, and maybe it is easy to tell which statistics are getting better or worse, but not easy to tell what all of this means. If you are clear about what the different measurements mean you are likely to feel much more empowered in regard to improving your health.

Plus once you have gotten into your regime of natural therapies and see your test results improving, it will be a lot more satisfying if you understand what they all mean.

There are several main parameters that are used to assess kidney function, and we will go through each of these to gain a clear understanding of how they reflect your kidney function.

Keep in mind that all of these measurements can be improved with specific natural remedy strategies, and the tests are assessed together to gain a clear understanding of your overall kidney health. For this reason, when repairing the kidneys we use remedies that treat several aspects of kidney health and function.


Perhaps the most important measurement is GFR (glomerular filtration rate) or eGFR (estimated glomerular filtration rate). The glomerular are the filtering units of the kidneys. Because the kidneys main function is to filter the blood, if the rate at which filtering occurs is decreased, this is the most reliable sign of diminished kidney function.

GFR is a urine test that measures a decrease in kidney function with a drop in rate. The healthy range for GFR is 90-125ml/min for men, and slightly lower for women at 90-115.  If your test shows a GFR below 90 this is considered as mild kidney damage, or the beginning of kidney disease.

Estimated GFR is based on creatinine levels and takes into account sex, age and race. If eGFR decreases to below 10mL/min then it is considered that a patient requires dialysis.

Natural tips: As GRF is a direct reflection of your kidney function, anything that you use in regard to natural treatments will assist in increasing your GFR. This includes dietary and lifestyle changes and also herbal and nutritional therapies. There are a wide range of remedies to improve GFR, and for more information on those that would be appropriate for you please refer to the following link: My Complete Kidney Healing Program


Creatinine is a product formed by the breakdown of creatine phosphate as a result of skeletal muscle metabolism. Creatinine is released at a constant rate into the bloodstream as a result of this process.

When kidney function is optimal, serum creatinine remains balanced as it is excreted in the urine at the same rate in which it is produced. The kidneys play a major role in filtering creatinine from the blood, and much of it is passed out in the urine.

Creatinine readings work inversely with GFR, so if GFR is low, then creatinine will be high. Therefore high creatinine is regarded as a very reliable indicator of diminished kidney function. The reference range for blood creatinine is: 0.6- 1.2 mg per decilitre in men and 0.5- 1.1 mg per decilitre in females (other countries 45-90 μmol/L for women and 60-110 μmol/L for men).

In general vegetarians have lower blood creatinine than meat eaters, and strenuous exercise also increases blood creatinine.

Creatinine Clearance Test:

Along with GFR, this is one of the most important tests in assessing kidney function. This test compares the level of creatinine in urine with that in the blood. As opposed to a blood test to measure creatinine levels, by taking urine levels into account, the creatinine clearance test measures how effectively creatinine is removed from the blood by the kidneys. This therefore gives a more accurate measure of kidney function than blood creatinine alone.

To perform the creatinine clearance test, a blood sample is taken along with a 24 hour urine sample. The creatinine clearance rate is calculated by comparing the two samples, and to come up with a final estimate figure the rate is adjusted according to the patients’ body size.

The reference ranges for creatinine clearance are as follows:  men: 97 to 137 ml/min and women 88 to 128 ml/min. Levels naturally decline with age according to a natural decline in kidney function.

Natural tips: Just like with GFR readings, any natural therapies that improve kidney health in general will improve your creatinine reading-which will in this case decrease the figure. However in regard to creatinine there are a couple of extra tips and specific remedies that can be applied.

Because creatinine is a product of muscle metabolism, any activity that is highly strenuous can contribute to increasing creatinine. For this reason it is recommended that patients with advanced kidney damage do not participate in regular strenuous activities. Light activities are ideal e.g. walking or gardening.

Specific remedies that help to decrease creatinine include: Nettle leaf, Horsetail or Couch grass, which are both herbs that have widespread positive impact when it come to kidney health.

Potassium & Sodium

Potassium levels can increase when the kidneys are not filtering efficiently and if this is the case then you need to decrease your intake of potassium in the diet. This is only usually necessary in advanced kidney damage. Potassium is impossible to avoid entirely, but not that you would want to.

Potassium is necessary for other functions within the body such heart health. The two main reference ranges for blood potassium are 3.5-5.0mmol/L and 3.5 – 5.4 mEq/L depending what country you live in. Please keep in mind there can be slight variations between laboratories as well.

Natural tips: If you have high potassium levels, the best approach is to use a process to leach potassium from your foods. That way you are controlling your intake while still consuming foods that are necessary for your health. For instructions on leaching and potassium and for a list of high potassium foods please follow this link:


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